Renters and apartment-dwellers in the ACT can now join the solar energy movement, with the opportunity to purchase a plot in a NSW solar garden.
A communal solar array is being established on a farm west of Wagga Wagga, with Canberra residents now among those who can take part in the renewable energy project.
Like a community garden, members each get their own patch, contributing to the construction of a solar farm.
Each three-kilowatt equivalent solar plot costs $4200 and is expected to save owners around $500 on their electricity bill each year of the 10-year program.
A loan repayment of $455 and retail credit of $50 will be applied annually once the solar array is constructed and selling electricity, anticipated for June 2023.
ACT residents must be an existing ore eligible Energy Locals customer to get the benefits from one of the 333 plots available. A target has been set to have them sold by the end of the month.
The project will see the construction of a 1.5-megawatt solar array across about five hectares at a farming property in Grong Grong and is expected to reduce emissions by 3100 tonnes each year.
Kristy Walters, Haystacks Solar Garden Co-operative chair, said solar energy savings could make a difference to household budgets at a time when cost of living expenses keep rising.
"If you can install rooftop solar, that will always be the best option financially," she said.
"If you can't, either because you rent, live in an apartment or some other reason, buying a solar garden plot is the next best thing.
"It's better in many ways because it's hassle-free - no maintenance or insurance costs to worry about, with the added bonus that a solar garden plot moves with you."
The Albanese government pledged to co-invest $100 million for 85 solar gardens around the country prior to the federal election.
Part of its Powering Australia initiative, the Albanese government has also promised to install 400 community batteries to support the grid and $20 billion for urgent upgrades to the electricity network.
Kim Mallee, Haystacks Solar Garden project manager, said this was a national test case to prove more households could be given the chance to access solar.
Ms Mallee said the project was pioneering a model that countries including the United States had been enjoying for years.
Initially launched for NSW residents, the Haystacks Solar Garden has expanded to include the ACT, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and south-east Queensland.
More than a quarter of the plots had been sold in the third week of September, ahead of opening the program up to residents outside of NSW.
The Grong Grong solar array development is expected to generate approximately 3.8GWh of electricity annually, equivalent to approximately 700 homes.
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